Short-term mission teams impacted by travel security issues

By August 25, 2006

Lebanon (MNN) — Heightened travel securities and ongoing Middle East tensions are impacting short-term missions. But Lance Snipes with Operation Mobilization reports that God worked this summer even in the midst of a chaotic season of travel.

More than 600 people have gone on short-term trips through OM this summer, in countries around the world.

One of the teams was scheduled to minister in Lebanon, and while they were there, the fighting between Israel and Lebanon broke out. The team had to be evacuated quickly, ruining their intended plans. But God wasn’t finished with the team. As they waited at the border to evacuate from Lebanon, God opened doors for ministry.

Snipes explains what happened, “And they had so much time at the border because of everyone else going there, that they stayed about three hours there at the border. So they decided to get out their instruments and do some singing and dancing and passed out tracts and some Bibles in Arabic because people started gathering around them. And they actually won some people to Christ there at the border fleeing from Lebanon over into Syria. So that was a real big highlight, because it wasn’t planned!”

Much of what happened in the evacuation times showed God’s hand protecting and guiding the team, and Snipes said the responses have been encouraging to see how, even though their plans were messed up, God’s plan proved greater. “They were very much talking about how positive the ministry was and whatever particular field the short-termers ended up serving on, their story of what they’ve been through in Lebanon was a bridge, so to speak, to get through to talk to the people in the other various fields. The people in those different countries were very interested in hearing about their experience.”

Since the thwarted terrorist attack on transatlantic airplanes earlier this month, air travel has changed significantly. For OM, so far, the increased travel securities have caused only travel delays and luggage modifications, and Snipes says OM trips will continue. “None of us are letting that stop us. We see it as just another thing that we have to do and our short-term missionaries haven’t complained about it, and we’re just keeping on.”

OM began its Ireland branch in 2002, but it’s already seen incredible growth and impact. It’s been a gathering point for young people on short-term missions, says Snipes. This summer, almost 100 people from 42 countries served in Ireland with local churches, mainly in youth outreaches. Through the numerous short-termers, OM was able to open a youth cafe center in Kilkenny, which is being run by local churches as a way to minister to youth in that region.

Snipes says, “We’re finding that teens especially are open to the Gospel there. It’s almost like a generation has been brought up that really doesn’t know anything about Christ one way or the other, but when the Gospel is shared with them, they can be very receptive.”

OM’s short-term ministry outreaches are about connecting with people then connecting people with God, says Snipes.

OM offers more than 40 organized trip opportunities, plus handling customized trips in over 110 countries where OM works around the world. For a listing of OM’s trip opportunities, check out MNN’s Short-term Missions Database (Click the ‘Go On A Trip’ button on the sidebar) or contact OM directly through their information listed below.

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